The Wisdom of Psalm 1

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As introduced in my previous post, the first wisdom psalm in the Psalter is Psalm 1. Besides this psalm, I place ten other psalms into this wisdom category (15, 36, 37, 49, 73, 112, 119, 127, 128, 133). Wisdom psalms share common features with other Old Testament wisdom literature, such as Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. More specifically, Psalm 1 has thematic similarities with the book of Proverbs. Like Proverbs, Psalm 1 contrasts the righteous and the wicked by emphasizing God’s blessing on the righteous, those who in faith obey the Law, and God’s judgment on the wicked. And, like Proverbs, the didactic thrust of Psalm 1 is to direct the people of God into a godly lifestyle.Psalm 1 develops these similar themes in a structured way, broadly arranged into the following units of thought: the way of the godly, vv. 1–3, the way of the wicked, vv. 4–5, and a summary contrasting the two ways, v. 6, with v. 6a summarizing vv. 1–3 and v. 6b vv. 4–5. We could picture the overall structure like this:

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A more detailed analysis reveals the psalm’s intricate structure.

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Based upon this structural arrangement of this psalm, my next post will develop the message of Psalm 1 with a focus on its contemporary application.

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